10 Small Wellness Tips that have a Big Impact on Your Health

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The idea of “living a healthy lifestyle” can feel overwhelming. What does that even mean? It’s easy to mentally equate health with strict diets and grueling hours of daily exercise. In reality, health is multifaceted and looks different for every person. There’s no need to be overly critical of yourself in your journey towards your own uniquely healthy lifestyle. Small changes to your lifestyle can have a huge positive impact not only on your overall health, but also in your daily exercise routine. Small steps are more sustainable and more likely to turn into healthy habits that ultimately stick. As personal trainer and fitness instructor Nina Saunders puts it, “Get a little uncomfortable in order to get comfortable.” Here are 10 small changes to try out in your daily routine that can have a big impact on your health.

1. Stand Up Alarm

Brianna Biffignani, professional dancer and certified fitness professional provides us with a timely tip: “Set an alarm on your phone to stand up at least once every 2 hours that you are working. Just standing up from your work space will increase overall health and make you more likely to walk around for a few minutes – even if it’s just a walk around your desk or office space. Maybe you’ll even incorporate a few stretches while you stand before getting back to work again.” 

2. Netflix Plank

Who else has been watching more Netflix than usual since quarantine? Gilmore Girls enthusiast Hit House Muay Thai instructor, yoga instructor (and Gilmore Girls enthusiast) Regina Postrekhina suggests that while binging on Netflix it’s a good idea to do a 1 minute plank between episodes. If you binge TV like us, you’ll end up doing at least three sets of these every evening. Still watching cable? “Plank during ads or commercials,” founder of The Ness, Aly Giampolo, suggests.  

3. Push Up Challenge 

Mike Pierce, Hit House instructor and fighter, has another quarantine suggestion. He shares, “Something I have been doing during quarantine is pushups every hour. It gives me a reason to get up from my desk and move each hour.” If that sounds like a big change, don’t sweat it: try incorporating one set of push ups once a day to start and build from there.

4. Rolling Not Scrolling

A lot of us reach for our phones first year in the morning to scroll through Instagram and look at the news. “Instead of scrolling through your phone, roll out your feet while drinking your coffee,” says Rowena Villanueva, founder of The Pilates Nook.

5. Airplane Mode

“Turn your phone on airplane mode by 10PM, and don’t turn it on until after you’ve taken your morning walk,” shares Cam Norsworthy, creator of Pilates service Cam On-Demand.

6. Serious Schedule

It’s easy to let the week slip by us and lose track of time. Sam Castro, Personal Trainer at Equinox, suggests taking a few minutes out of your day once a week to set up some plans. “Schedule your workouts for the week in advance so it can be a non-negotiable,” he says. 

7. Calf Raises 

Justin NG, founding instructor at Hit House and striking couch at NG Combat, provides us with a practical move to warm up your muscles. Waiting in line for something? Do some calf raises while you’re waiting!

8. Morning Dose of Protein

Marissa Graham, Professional Dancer, Certified Trainer at Dancers Who Lift (and virtual Hit House instructor) provides us with some insight to her morning routine, a simple healthy step: “Mix in a scoop of protein to your morning coffee. Caffeine plus hitting those macros… there’s no better feeling.” If you try this out, it’s recommended that you add a little milk or creamer to prevent your cup of joe from getting foamy. 

9. Back to… Boring Basic?

Co-Founder and CEO of Hit House, Tyler Scott, has some “straightforward” advice: “Prepare and eat the same meal for 7 consecutive days on the same hour. Keep it simple. Lots of protein with leafy vegetables.”

10. Bone Broth

Kara Rosella, professional stunt person, advocates for the power of bone both: “Add a cup of bone broth to your daily routine. It works wonders for digestion and skin!” She suggests investigating different bone broth powders available that are both easy to prepare at home and affordable (or try HealthKick partner Owl Venice for fresh Organic bone broth delivery!)

 

Emma Boelter graduated from Tulane University with a BA in English in 2017 and is currently pursuing her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Although she has writing experience in many different areas, right now she is focusing on providing clients with high-quality digital material. She currently lives in New Orleans, LA.

Dana VanPamelen is the co-owner of Hit House, a Muay Thai Kickboxing studio in NYC. She has a Masters degree in Marketing from Hofstra University and loves gathering wellness life hacks.

Vegan Recipes from Sakara Life

Classic Banana Bread with Vanilla-Tahini Butter

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Ingredients (Makes 12 slices):

For the banana bread

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 3 medium-ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
  • 3/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped

For the vanilla-tahini butter

  • 1 cup store-bought organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Himalayan salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Make the banana bread: In a small bowl, stir together the flaxseed meal with 2 tablespoons of water. Allow the mixture to sit for 2 minutes to thicken slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with oil and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the bananas, vanilla, oil, sugar, honey, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and flaxseed meal-water mixture. Add the almond meal, flour, and oats. Stir until combined. Fold in the almonds and hazelnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the bread feels firm and the top has turned golden brown and is slightly cracked. If the bread starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil and continue baking. 
  5. Make the vanilla-tahini butter: In a food processor or blender, combine the pumpkin, tahini, honey, and vanilla with a pinch of salt and blend until smooth.
  6. Enjoy the bread warm, slathered with the tahini butter and a tiny sprinkle of salt. Store leftovers in the fridge—the bread for up to 3 days, the tahini for up to 5. This bread also freezes well. Wrap the loaf in foil and a freezer-safe plastic bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.

 

Taco Salad with Walnut “Chorizo”

taco_saladFrom Eat Clean Play Dirty: Recipes for a Body and Life You Love (Sakara Life)

We make our taco salad with classic flavors, including homemade pico de gallo (though you could also buy a fresh version from the grocery store), but the star is the spicy walnut “chorizo” that’s flavorful and satisfying. Walnuts are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which nourishes the brain and keeps hormones vibrant and in balance. Plus, with fiber-rich black beans and liver-detoxifying cilantro, this dinner is a delicious way to support the microbiome. You can serve this dish as is or add a stack of warm corn tortillas and reimagine as tacos. 

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Pico de Gallo

4 Roma Tomatoes, diced

1 large shallot, minced

2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ to ½ jalapeno (depending on how much heat you like), seeded and minced

4 sprigs fresh cilantro, eaves chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

Himalayan salt

Walnut “Chorizo”:

1 cup raw walnuts

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika 

½ teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon wildflower honey

Himalayan salt

Salad Base:

2 avocados, pitted and peeled

Himalayan salt

1 cup, cooked and canned black beans, rinsed and drained

Juice of 1 lemon

12 cups mixed greens

2 cups shredded cabbage

8 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves picked

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

Make the pico de gallo: In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, shallot, scallions, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro and toss with the oil, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture marinate while you make the “chorizo” and the salad.

Make the “chorizo”: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients with a pinch of salt and process until the mixture begins to stick to itself but isn’t totally smooth. Set aside. 

Assemble the salad: In a small bowl, mash the avocados with a pinch of salt.

In another small bowl, toss the black beans with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. 

Divide the greens and cabbage among 4-large plates. Top with the pico de gallo (juices and all), black beans (make sure to include some of the lemon juice), crumbles of the walnut “chorizo,” and the avocado smash. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and pumpkin seeds and serve with lime wedges. 

 

Summer BBQ Recipes

Check out some amazing recipes to try this Summer from a few of our HealthKick partners, from main dishes, delicious sides to dessert! Let us know in the comments below which ones you’re going to try!

Greek Bison Burger

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Breathing to Calm Stress

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Breathing consciously is one of the most powerful ways to calm the body’s stress response (sympathetic nervous system) and activate the body’s rest response (parasympathetic nervous system), powerfully changing the cascade of hormones and communication molecules flowing through your brain and body for the better. Try integrating the following breathing practices into your daily life and notice the effect on your mood and mental clarity.

If you have no time at all, try: 

Observing Your Breath: Don’t change your breath in any way; simply observe your breath. Where is your breath going in your body? Feel your lungs expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Focus on the changing sensations as air moves through your nose and fills your chest and abdomen. You may mentally note, “inhaling,” as inhaling and, “exhaling,” as exhaling.

Belly Breathing: Place your hand on your abdomen and as you inhale let your belly expand, like the belly of a baby or a puppy dog. When we are stressed, we take short upper chest breaths. Breathing deeply into the belly tells the brain that we are safe, bringing blood to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the highest part of the brain. “Willpower pause” is the term researcher Kelly McGonigal uses to describe how two minutes of deep belly breathing shifts blood away from the reactive parts of the brain to the PFC, allowing us to respond with clarity and resilience during times of stress. Amazing! 

Focusing on the Exhalation: Take a deep breath in through your nose and as you let it out through your mouth, focus on squeezing out every last sip. Notice the effort in the muscles between your ribs (called intercostal muscles). The amount of air you move out of your lungs determines the amount of air you can draw in. 

If you have 3 minutes, try:


Counting Your Breath: This is a powerful anti-anxiety technique. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and exhale through your mouth (like you were blowing out of a straw) for a count of 8. Repeat the processes three more times, maintaining the 4:7:8 ratio and notice the effect on your nervous system. Do four breath cycles at least twice a day. 

If you have 5 – 10 minutes try: 

Making your Breath Deeper and More Easeful with an Anchor: Sitting or lying down, scan your body for any areas of unnecessary tension and let the body soften. Bring your attention to your belly and invite your breath to be deeper and more easeful. At the bottom of each exhalation, silently whisper a word or phrase that makes you feel safe or peaceful. This word or phrase is an anchor for your attention. When your mind wanders, invite your attention back to your breath and your word. Keep inviting yourself back for 5-20 minutes. Researchers use the term “relaxation response” to describe the healing that occurs through this practice. In one study, participants who practiced for 10 -20 minutes once or twice per day demonstrated changes in the expression of genes related to immune function, energy metabolism, and inflammation. Relaxation literally changes the substance of your body!

Resting in Your Breath: Find a comfortable position lying down. Let the eyes close and the arms and legs rest heavy. Find your breath wherever you feel it most easily – belly, chest, or nose. Now, sense that you are “being breathed” by the universal life force. There is nothing you have to do, just enjoy being breathed. Inhaling to receive this nourishing life force and exhaling to let go. Allow yourself be carried by this mysterious life force, resting in the fundamental rhythm of nature to which you already belong. 

 

By Kayleigh Vogel, Wellness & Positive Psychology Coach 

http://www.kayleighwellness.com